SIERRA VISTA — A group of volunteers gathered at the Discovery Gardens on the UA campus in Sierra Vista Wednesday morning to start building an 8-by-12 foot greenhouse.

Funded through a grant from the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, the structure will be used to grow vegetables and bedding flowers, which will be incorporated into the gardens for educational purposes.

“Most of the people working on this project are members of our newly graduated 2019 Master Gardener class,” said Jan Groth, who serves as a UA Cooperative Extension master gardener instructor and program coordinator.

The 16-week course started in January and met Wednesday afternoons through May. Participants receive science-based information on such topics as soil and plant nutrition, pest management, water conservation, native and desert adaptive plants and turf care.

On Wednesday, Cal Kelley, master gardener president, was one of the volunteers who helped with the project by assembling work tables to be used inside the greenhouse to start seedlings and potted plants. Other volunteers worked on different sections of the structure’s frame, doors and windows.

“This greenhouse gives us greater capabilities to do more things for the gardens and the public,” Kelley said. “It’s going to make a great addition to our discovery gardens, especially for educational purposes.”

Fourteen-year-old Teague Hendrick was assembling the structure’s double doors with his parents, Ric and Wendy, and younger brother, Brody.

“Wendy is one of 26 master gardener graduates from our 2019 class who helped with the greenhouse,” Groth said. “Building this greenhouse as been a huge labor of love for most of our new graduates, along with a few other established master gardeners who volunteered to help with the project. We’ve worked more than 30 hours on building the structure.”

The greenhouse was constructed in sections, starting with leveling the site and building a foundation that was anchored in concrete on the first day.

“In the following two days, we started building the various sections so we could erect the structure as a whole,” Groth said.

Visitors new to the gardens are often surprised when they walk in and see the variety and collection of plants that are available, Groth said.

Some of the theme gardens include: evergreen, hot color, moonlight, cactus and succulent, hummingbird and butterfly and the pond shade garden. Pollinator themes run throughout the different garden settings.

“We have a 20,000 gallon rainwater tank and a beautiful pavilion that houses workshops and events,” Groth said. “We’ve also hosted more than 11,000 students for three-hour educational field trips that are offered to schools throughout Cochise County.”

Native and desert-adapted plants give visitors landscaping ideas, and drip irrigation systems are seen throughout the gardens, demonstrating the most efficient way to water plants.

Open for public visits, the UA Sierra Vista discovery gardens provide a motivational, educational setting while showcasing a beautiful, peaceful botanical environment.

“We’re thrilled to have this new addition because it gives us a whole new dimension for our discovery gardens and it allows us to start growing some of our own plants,” Groth said. “We’ll start using it on a full-time basis once the weather cools in the fall.”

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